Sometimes converts are so fixated on the doctrinal issues that their spiritual lives really suffer.
This happened to me. Because I was a Protestant minister and knew that becoming Catholic was going to cost me my occupation and income, I was focused like a laser beam on the single question: Is it true? I was reading constantly, and when I wasn’t reading I was listening to recorded debates between Protestants and Catholics on all sorts of subjects.
I was buried in ideas and had no time for prayer. I was struggling in terms of my spiritual life.
COURAGE TO CONVERT
Especially after I told the congregation that I was leaving.
Leading up to that, my mind was fixated on the process. I knew I was becoming Catholic and it was becoming more and more difficult to do what I was supposed to be doing as a pastor. For instance, I had a “New Members Class” on the horizon in which I would be teaching a group of regular visitors why they should consider becoming members of our Baptist Church. Great! I was also finding it harder and harder to preach as my conviction had changed on so many issues. The pressure was building and all I could think about in those final weeks was how to do what I knew I had to do.
Because of this, when people talk about the “courage” it took to leave, I have to laugh. No one says to a man who runs from a burning building, “My, what courage you have!” At the point when I resigned my ministry, this is how it felt. I had essentially become a Catholic attempting to function as a Protestant pastor, and the only way I could resolve the unbearable tension was to leave.
With extreme generosity (what wonderful people!) my church gave me three months severance. Whew!
But soon I found myself sinking into debt and looking for work and at the same time arguing and debating about Catholicism with everyone I knew. I was in my 40’s. My degrees were in Bible and theology. I was pretty much worthless as far as corporate America was concerned. I was finding it much harder than I had anticipated to find work that could pay the bills.
Sitting one night with a few men who met each week to talk and pray, I almost lost it. I was telling them about how stressed I was and I noticed that my left hand was involuntarily shaking. The men where looking at me and I could it in their faces. They were looking at someone they were afraid was about to have a nervous breakdown.
I could have really used some serious spiritual direction during that time.
CATHOLIC CONVERSION ISN’T EASY
Look, conversion isn’t easy and to one degree on another, converts need help learning how to get their spiritual bearings as Catholics and deepen their interior lives. I encourage you to check out the Spiritual Direction page of our site where we give some basic advice on how to find a Spiritual Director and also recommend some great resources for you in this area.
Finally, here is Jenna Wilbur talking about her conversion to the Catholic faith and how important it was for her having good spiritual direction during that time.